Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Green of Winter

New Englanders are born and bred to complain about the weather. And so naturally a mild, snowless winter makes us fret. This is supposed to be a time that we retreat indoors, watch the snow fly, and while we might still think and dream about our gardens, we usually can't still see them. I know that I have made a grave internal miscalculation- I am no longer preparing for winter and I am now convincing myself that spring is in the air! Devastating times ahead! In the meantime, I am reading a wonderful book by William Cullina, Native Ferns Moss & Grasses. Here is an excerpt that made me smile and remember to love all weather.

"I often wonder if I was a moss in my former life. I have an affinity for the misty dampness of rainy weather- what the Irish call a soft day. It is just the kind of weather that brings the mosses back to life. These tiny plants do not have the deep roots and vasculature of larger (I will resist saying "higher") plants, so they must be content to wick up the rains and dews. When surface water is scarce, most mosses can dry up like a kitchen sponge left out in the sun, purging their cells of water and shriveling into a paler, shrunken version of their rain-soaked selves. When moisture returns they quickly become plump and verdant again. Thus, cool, rainy weather and lingering dews are just what mosses relish. Whether it is reincarnation or the possibility that I retain some genetic memory of my ancestral home in Ireland's foggy west, I do love a damp day, and I do love moss."
-William Cullina 

These photos were all taken in the woods where I live. The vibrant greens are reminiscent of wet winters in Washington state.  I believe the above moss is Dicranum scoparium, very abundant in New England woods and found on rock outcroppings.


  1. Yeah...once again way nice post...but Helen...I had a hard time seeing frogs and dandelions in December...what a strange winter.

  2. Beautiful green photos... i love moss. It has been a very strange winter here in PA too.

  3. I think the lichen is Parmelia sulcata... and I agree with you on the moss ID!

  4. Beautiful photos, beautiful blog. I'm glad I found you.